Strategic Direction: Customer Service
In December, 2000, the New York City Council conducted a survey on usage of twelve major municipally-funded services. Overall, public libraries received the highest positive rating of all services. The survey found that people in Queens used their public libraries most heavily of all the five boroughs, with 81% visiting at least a few times a year. An overwhelming 86% gave the service they received the highest possible rating. That’s customer service.
- Seven-day service continued at Central Library and 13 other locations from September to May.
- Library customers accessed the Internet from 790 computer workstations.
- Reference service via e-mail was established, giving customers access to knowledgeable librarians even after traditional library hours. Through InfoLine/Ask-A-Librarian service answers are returned by e-mail, usually within 24 hours.
- Online services were broadened. In FY ’01, 15 informational databases were made accessible through the library’s web site. Customers can find maps, search periodicals, research stock information from their schools, homes and offices. Self-check machines were installed in select locations to speed customers on their way.
- Hundreds of workshops in using new technology were attended by library customers, from teaching the basics, such as keyboarding and e-mail for beginners, to basic research skills given in multiple languages, to more task-oriented seminars, such as resumé writing.
- Senior ’Net Mentors gave small group workshops to other seniors in computer literacy. Lots of surprised grandchildren are getting e-mail from newly tech-savvy grandparents in Queens.
- A partnership with the Queens Health Network is bringing better health-related information to library customers and better library services to hospital patients. Through the partnership, programs by medical experts on topics such as “Prostate Health” and “Over-the-Counter Medication Safety” are available in the libraries, as are free screenings for medical conditions such as depression and childhood asthma.
- A grant from the Langeloth Foundation facilitated the hiring of a Medical Information Librarian at Central Library. The Medical Information Librarian will confidentially research health information to help convalescing patients and their caregivers make informed choices about their care.
- Multi-lingual information on doing business in Queens was posted to the Library’s web site, in cooperation with the Queens County Overall Economic Development Council.
- Using library resources for career development was a focal point in FY ’01. A Job Information Center opened at the Flushing Library to provide resources and counseling on jobs and career training. Queens Library opened an information kiosk at the N.Y. State Department of Labor’s Jamaica One-Stop Career Center, so residents are aware of how library services can assist them in their search for employment. The partnership is unique in the nation and a model for other municipalities.
- More than 3,200 adults enrolled in classes teaching English to speakers of other languages. For the first time, classes were offered on Sundays. Thousands more used the six Adult Learning Centers for self-study and English conversation. English on the Air, a Queens Library radio segment for Spanish speakers on Radio Sucre, benefited additional learners.
- A Kurzweil 1000 advanced reading tool for the visually handicapped was donated to the Steinway Branch. It uses a scanner and synthetic speech to convert the printed text into audible words.